Saturday, 15 August 2009

Three More Wills

A month ago I looked in some detail at one of four Wills associated with Maxwellswalls, namely that written for Henry McIlhagga. Henry died in 1886. It will add to the picture of many clan years in Maxwellswalls if we look at three more Wills, particularly as they are all from siblings. In the order in which the Wills were proved, The Wills Calendar in the Provincial Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) summarises the basic facts as follows:

John Wilson McIlhagga who died 11th April 1896, late of Maxwellswalls, Farmer, left effects valued at £123. Probate was granted on 5th May 1897 at Belfast to Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga of 84 Great Patrick Street, Belfast, Merchant.

Archibald McIlhagga who died 14th April 1898, late of Maxwellswalls, Farmer, left effects valued at £31. Probate granted on 27th September 1901 in Belfast to Agnes McIlhagga, the widow.

Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga who died 6th September 1905, late of Loughview Old Cavehill Road, Belfast, left effects valued at £1480. 18s. 1d. Probate was granted on 25th October in Belfast to James Wilson McIlhagga, Merchant and William John Hutchinson, Farmer.

John's Will makes it clear that his brothers and sister are Archibald, Nathaniel Owens and Margaret. Archibald's Will makes it clear that his wife is Agnes. From AncestryIreland we learn that on 18th June 1885 Archibald had married Agnes Jamieson in Wellington Street Presbyterian Church, Ballymena. They had only had under thirteen years of married life before Archie died. They did however have six children in that time, William, Jane (Jeannie), Robert (Bob), Margaret, John and Nathaniel. Here I have to add that a re-examination of John's Will makes me withdraw my suggestion in an earlier blog that Archibald's second name was Duncan. One of his witnesses was indeed Archibald Duncan but I assume this was not John's brother but rather a friend (or relation) whose surname was Duncan. As we will note, Nathaniel calls one of his sons Archibald Duncan, and though it is tempting to think this is after his brother Archie, it may well be in honour of their friend, Archibald Duncan. So I will have to rethink my earlier suggestion that William, father of the siblings whose Wills was are looking at, married a Mary Duncan.

Nathaniel's Will makes it clear that his sons are James Wilson and Archibald and that his daughter is Lily. He refers to his 'six sons' though doesn't name them. It seems that in his infirmity he had lost count, for out of nine children, seven were sons, at least as far as I can ascertain: James Wilson, William, Henrietta, Elizabeth (Lily), Nathaniel Owens, John Hutchinson, Archibald Duncan, George and Joseph. It is of course possible that one of his sons had died before he made his will.

Clearly John Wilson, Archibald and Nathaniel Owens were tenants of Lord Massereene for many years in Maxwellswalls. We know that Archie and Nathaniel were married but must surmise that John and Margaret were not. The value of their Wills, apart from learning some details of their Estates, is the fact that they introduce us to people and relationships which we would not otherwise have heard of. They also confirm that people who were born in Maxwellswalls and were still resident there at their marriage also died there. The names of witnesses and of executors are interesting as they are sometimes related to the testators. Unfortunately witness names are unreadable on the Wills of Archibald and Nathaniel (except one who is signing for a firm of solicitors). However on John's they are clearly Archibald Duncan and George Gardiner. William John Hutchinson is an executor for Nathaniel. It would be good if we could demonstrate that Duncan or Gardiner of Hutchinson gives us a maiden name for the siblings' mother, and a wife for William. This however has to remain in the mists of the unknown at the present time. We do have an 1857 marriage of a Henry McIlhagga of Connor to an Agnes Gardiner, so we may well discover a relationship there.

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